A New York defence attorney has caused outrage by claiming a murderer of a trans woman shouldn't face the same punishment as if he had killed someone 'in the higher end of the community'.
John Scarpa made the claim on Thursday (05 December) as his client, Rasheen Everett, was sentenced to 25 years to life for the brutal murder of Amanda Gonzalez-Andujar in 2010.
Speaking on Everett's sentence, Scarpa said: 'A sentence of 25 years to life is an incredibly long period of time, Judge. Shouldn't that be reserved for people who are guilty of killing certain classes of individuals?
'Who is the victim in this case? Is the victim a person in the higher end of the community?'
Scarpa was immediately scolded by the judge, Supreme Justice Richard Butcher, who said: 'This court believes every human life is sacred... It's not easy living as a transgender, and I commend the family for supporting her.'
Everett, 32, was convicted of murdering Gonzalez-Andujar last month.
After meeting for sex in March 2010, Everett found Gonzalez-Andujar had male genitalia. He then proceeded to strangle and stab her.
Gonzalez-Andujar's naked body was found in her apartment days later, which had been ransacked.
Everett showed no remorse during the trial – even going so far as to chuckle through an emotional testimony by Gonzalez-Andujar's brother, who said: 'The pain my family feels is unbearable... It's all like a nightmare, and I'm still waiting to wake up.'
At the sentencing, Butcher criticized Everett, saying: 'The defendant is coldhearted and a violent menace to society'.